Taylor Swift and the NFL

Beaded Bracelet on Football

Photo taken by Sophia Carter

 A look at Taylor Swift’s impact on the NFL and how football fans are reacting to her

A relationship between one of the world’s biggest pop stars and a popular, likable professional football player sounds like something out of a young adult romance novel, yet it’s the reality for Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. 

Whether you’re a football fan, a Swiftie, or just someone on social media, I’m sure you have some level of awareness of the current romance between Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. Everywhere you look, it seems like someone is talking about Taylor Swift. 

As a fan myself, a significant portion of my social media was made up of Taylor Swift content. I, along with much of the country, was used to hearing stories about her music, relationships, and carbon footprint. However, her already ubiquitous presence has now infiltrated the realm of sports media - and people have strong feelings about it. 

Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce were first spotted in public together after Swift attended one of Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs games at the end of September. This appearance sparked dating rumors, which were not initially confirmed. 

PEOPLE magazine reported that an insider source told them that Kelce and Swift were hanging out, having fun, and getting to know each other. Swift made several more appearances at Kelce’s games, and then the couple was spotted holding hands in mid-October.

At first, Kelce alluded to their relationship on the podcast he hosts with his brother Jason Kelce without revealing too much. However, the couple has become quite obvious about their affection for one another, as they publicly support one another and don’t shy away from PDA. 

Since Swift began attending Chiefs games, she has once again become the subject of heated debate. She has been shown on screen several times during the games she attended, which produced a range of reactions from viewers. 


Additionally, the NFL, SportsCenter, and ESPN have made several posts on their social media accounts about Swift and Kelce. The comment sections on these posts are filled with unhappy football fans. 

Some NFL fans are annoyed with the attention to her presence at the games, while others welcome it as an opportunity to expand viewership. 

After this initial backlash to the posts about Swift, the NFL made a statement to PEOPLE Magazine.

 “We frequently change our bios and profile imagery based on what’s happening in and around our games, as well as culturally. The Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce news has been a pop cultural moment we’ve leaned into in real-time, as it’s an intersection of sport and entertainment, and we’ve seen an incredible amount of positivity around the sport,” the NFL said.

Based on the reaction to Swift’s presence at Chiefs games, one would think that TV broadcasts spend a significant amount of time focusing on her. However, a New York Times article broke down the actual amount of airtime Swift has received at recent games. Over a three-hour broadcast, Swift was typically on the screen for a total of 25 seconds. 

Despite some negative reactions to Swift’s presence at the games, she has attracted a new demographic to the NFL - young women. 

According to an article by Al Jazeera, Swift’s attendance has led to a major increase in female viewership - teenage girl viewership of the NFL has increased by 53 percent. Additionally, the NFL has seen a 20 percent increase in sponsorships, as well as an overall increase in viewers across demographics. 

On Sunday, Feb. 11, Swift cheered on Kelce as the Chiefs played in the 58th Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers. An average of 123.4 million people in the US watched this Super Bowl, which made it the most-watched TV broadcast since the 1969 Moon landing, according to a BBC article. It is unknown whether this was directly influenced by Swift’s presence, but it seems like a likely contributing factor. 

Increased viewership, more sponsors and celebrity appearances at games all seem like positive outcomes from the Swift/Kelce relationship - so why are people upset? 

According to Associate Communications Professor at CU Boulder Jamie Skerski, there may be a few reasons for the outrage over Swift’s appearances at football games. 

“In part, she symbolizes a woman who is powerful, successful and she hasn’t backed down from the criticism,” Skerski said in an interview with 9 News. 

She added that much of the marketing for football is targeted towards men, and Taylor Swift does not really fit into that.

“The commercials, the sportsbooks, the fantasy sports, even the military flyovers are for the male fan. And Taylor Swift is not for them. And they don’t like it,” Skerski said. 

Whether NFL fans are simply annoyed with seeing a celebrity gain attention at football games, or if they have a problem with a wildly successful woman, the anger over Swift’s appearances at Chiefs games is concerning. 

“The same guys who might defame Taylor Swift being on the screen are the same ones to hashtag #GirlDad when they’re playing catch with their daughters in the backyard. You cannot social media advocate for being a Girl Dad if you’re going to simultaneously engage in discourse and practices that tell your daughters and sons that women’s success should be dismissed or is not important,” Skerski said. 

Fortunately, not all NFL fans have been angered by Swift’s appearances at games. 

Some have embraced it as an opportunity to bond with their daughters over a newfound intersection between interests. 

This was demonstrated in an advertisement for Cetaphil, which showed a father finally connecting with his daughter over Chiefs football. The ad does not directly mention Taylor Swift, but it shows imagery commonly associated with her, like friendship bracelets and the numbers 89 and 13. 

Though there were negative reactions to Swift’s presence at football games, the NFL, plenty of fans, and multiple players welcome the attention with open arms, viewing it as an opportunity to increase viewership and form bonds between demographics that may have been disconnected before.